The State of New Jersey is the plaintiff in a lawsuit against Exxon which has been going on for 11 years. The suit is about environmental contamination caused by Exxon at more than one site in New Jersey. Exxon's liability has already been determined at trial. All that remains is to determine damages in the next trial phase. New Jersey has for years been seeking damages of $8.9 Billion or $8,900,000,000.00.
However Governor Christie reportedly derailed that process. His administration recently announced to the Trial Judge that the State of New Jersey and Exxon have reached a settlement for less than 3% of what New Jersey sought under its previous Governors who filed and maintained this successful lawsuit against Exxon: They settled for a reported $250,000,000.00.
The deal does not seem to be done yet, however. Apparently the settlement agreement will be "submitted for public comment in April and would then be submitted for court approval in May," unless comments cause a change in the settlement. See Benjamin Weiser, "Exxon Settles $9 Billion Pollution Case in New Jersey for Far Less" p. A15, col. 1 (New York Times Nat'l ed., Saturday, February 28, 2015).
The announced settlement amount of $250,000,000.00 looks suspiciously like the amount of a self-insured retention or deductible on one of Exxon's presumably many liability insurance policies. What role if any Exxon's insurance companies are playing and have played in this settlement is not yet reported.
With respect to "public comment" on this settlement, how does that work exactly? Can people who are not residents of New Jersey make comments, for example? And what exactly is involved with "court approval" of this settlement, from why is it required to how is the process performed? In short, "What's up, New Jersey?"
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